Last time, I gave you my two cents, now to hear what my colleagues say. (So if you do not listen to me, listen to them!)
I contacted a good number of folks and asked each of them, “What is the #1 aspect of this area of online marketing that a small business needs to do in 2009?” I only allowed them to comment in one area, which I provided to them. Here is what some said:
I. Local Search
Peter Krasilovsky, Kelsey Group & Local Onliner: Larry, small businesses should maximize their search ratings and profile by taking advantage of all the free (and paid) tools that are available to them. Look at all the free things that Google has put out there (docs, calendar, chrome, analytics, reader, alerts, gmail, GoogleBase, the Webmaster tools). They can get great stuff from other services too.
Beyond that, with the economy getting tighter and tighter, SMBs really need to focus on proving their ROI and buying appropriate advertising. They shouldn’t quit traditional media like newspapers and YP if that’s been working for them. They shouldn’t buy search if display works. Basically, as long as the ROI works, they should keep going, but experimenting with new channels as well.
Mike Belasco, seOverflow: Submit local business data to any and every source and implement a strategy for encouraging reviews on these sites!
Andrew Shotland, LocalSEOGuide: Understand who their potential customer is and what the available tools are to speak to that person effectively when they are in the buying mode.
Matt McGee, Hyperlocalblogger.com: I would be thrilled if more small businesses simply became aware of the hyperlocal trend, and gave some thought to how it might impact their business, and how they might benefit from it. Our online activity will continue to get more and more local over time, and that will create new opportunities for small businesses to make connectionsÂ with people in their target area. As with most areas of online marketing, the ones who get on board early are the ones who will benefit the most.
I’m a big believer in hyperlocal blogging, and I think this is important to tell people: During the nasty December storms here in the Pacific Northwest, the City of Seattle’s home page turned into a collection of links for residents toÂ get more information about the storm, weather conditions, etc. They didn’t link to the local TV or newspaper web sites, but they did link to the neighborhood blogs, and those blogs owned the story. I think that’s a huge sign of the growth and awareness of local blogs as community resources, and those are the kinds of trends small businesses need to know about.
Ben Saren, CitySquares.com: Larry, small businesses should take advantage of these new hyper-local offerings as they sprout up because consumers are using them, and there’s a market there, a very relevant one. The bang for the SMB buck is big in hyper-local search/advertising. Consumers are looking to spend their money locally and hyper-local advertising targets those consumers.
Mark Robertson, ReelSEO: According to a study completed in August 2008 from Opus/Allbusiness, only 15% of SMBs overall responded that they have utilized an “online video ad”. In addition, new research from Marketing Sherpa confirms that the vast majority (~95%) of those who have used online video as a business tool indicated that they felt optimistic with the results. Therefore, in 2009, there is an incredible opportunity for the remainder of small and medium sized businesses to begin to take advantage of online video as a powerful tool for marketing their products and services.
Furthermore, with online video marketing in the nascent stages and with 15% adoption for SMBs, there exists a unique opportunity for SMBs to stand out amongst their competition with online video.
For those that have yet to embrace this fairly new and powerful marketing medium, I have a simple suggestion – Give it a try. Adding a video to your website can have a tremendous impact on both online as well as offline conversions.
For those that have experimented with an online video strategy, Video SEO and distribution will become key in 2009. Leverage the various outlets that exist today to gain additional exposure to your video ad from relevant audiences. With that in mind, it is important to go beyond Youtube. Consider publishing your video in your IYP listings, on local newspaper websites, and with other locally-targeted outlets that can put that marketing message in front of a relevant audience.
Sebastien Provencher, Praized Media Inc: For SMEs, I would say they need to do a couple of things in social media:
1) Store owners need to have a personal Facebook presence. That will allow them to build a Facebook store page and start adding “fansumers”. Facebook pages are a very interesting way of managing communications with your most vocal customers within Facebook.
2) They also need to register a Twitter account with their store name before someone takes it from them. I don’t think the average store owner needs to be active on Twitter in 2009 but you want to make sure you “own” your own brand on the site.
David Mihm, Davidmihm.com: Well, if the small business is locally-oriented, I’d definitely advise them to come up with a comprehensive strategy for monitoring and acquiring reviews from their customers. We’re seeing click through rates and time on site being considered by Google in its organic algorithm; surely ratings and volume of reviews can’t be far behind in Local (that innovation may even be here already). And if people are leaving reviews on their own blogs and websites, as well as on major search portals, those additional reviews can also count as citations if the blogs are well-indexed enough. Local meets Social!
Mobile is going to be very big, if it is not already. Need to be honest, I did not ask anyone about mobile, why? Guess i was not sure who to ask. Did find this from Greg Sterling on his blog: Prediction: Much More Mobile in 09
Ok small business there you have it. No more excuses, roll up your sleeves and get moving. Many thanks to those who contributed to this post.